Trine University's NASA Rover team took second place overall in the college and university division of the 2022 NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge (HERC), the highest finish for Trine in the competition's history.
The student competition tasks high school and college teams from around the world to design, build and test a human-powered rover capable of traversing simulated terrain from the Moon, Mars and other rocky planets. Along the way, teams are also required to complete scientific tasks, reflecting spacewalks that were completed during NASA's Apollo Program and may be completed during NASA's Artemis Program.
Team members, all design engineering technology majors, were Ben Alston of Adrian, Michigan; Emma Daniels of Plymouth, Indiana; Tony Greenman of Jasper, Michigan; Stephanie Hartpence of Elkhart, Indiana; Hunter Klein of Shipshewana, Indiana; and Connor Malmquist of Valparaiso, Indiana.
This year's design was the lightest a Trine team has entered, with the finished rover weighing 142 pounds. Klein said the team's biggest accomplishment was the design of the rover's wheels, which were made from corrugated aluminum, a material normally used for road signs.
The team also 3D-printed the rim that surrounds the corrugated aluminum and used a lighter fill material inside. The team began working on the rover in August and carried out the design process throughout the fall. Around the beginning of this year, they finalized their 3D models and started production of the rover. This is the third year in a row Trine's NASA Rover team has earned a top award at the international competition.
For more than 25 years, the annual NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge and its sponsors have encouraged student teams from the United States and around the world to push the limits of innovation and imagine what it will take to explore the Moon, Mars and other worlds.
Trine's highest previous finish was 17th place overall in 2014. The Universidad Nacional de Colombia was the overall winner of this year's event.